Narrator: This is Science Today. A research team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has helped improve anthrax detection by discovering new regions, or 'signatures', of the DNA that are unique to the bacterium that causes anthrax. Biomedical scientist Lyndsay Radnedge says they've found 40 DNA signatures, which react with all strains of anthrax, but not with closely-related pathogens.
Radnedge: The perfect DNA signature gives you no false positives, gives you no false negatives. So, no false positives means it doesn't cross-react with its near neighbors. And no false negatives means that it absolutely picks up all of the strains of anthrax in the worldwide collection that we have.
Narrator: The more DNA signatures there are, the quicker it will be to compare any new strains that may be closely-related to anthrax.
Radnedge: Routinely in hospitals and such, a lot of clinical microbiology can take a couple of days. It involves growing the organisms and with DNA-based technologies, you can interrogate environmental samples directly and get an answer in an hour or two.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.